Brandon Phillips doesn’t value on-base percentage, Joey Votto does. Does this matter?

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Interesting piece from Bob Nightengale of USA Today about Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, who don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the importance of on-base percentage. While Votto has taken criticism for valuing his on-base skills, he continues to defend his approach at the plate. Meanwhile, Phillips is doing the same thing, except from the opposite end of the spectrum. Check it out:

“I don’t do that MLB Network on-base percentage (stuff),” Phillips told USA TODAY Sports. “I think that’s messing up baseball. I think people now are just worried about getting paid, and worrying about on-base percentage, instead of just winning the game.

“That’s the new thing now. I feel like all of these stats and all of these geeks upstairs, they’re messing up baseball, they’re just changing the game. It’s all about on-base percentage. If you don’t get on base, then you suck. That’s basically what they’re saying. People don’t care about RBI or scoring runs, it’s all about getting on base.

“Why we changing the game after all of this time? If we all just took our walks, nobody would be scoring runs. Nobody would be driving anybody in or getting anybody over. How you going to play the game like that. People don’t look at doing the things the right way, and doing things to help your team win.

“I remember back in the day you hit .230, you suck. Nowadays, you hit .230, with a .400 on-base percentage, you’re one of the best players in the game. That’s amazing. I’ve never seen (stuff) like that. Times have changed. It’s totally different now.

Does this sound a little crazy? Of course. I got a little chuckle out of the line about MLB Network inventing on-base percentage. That was the first I’ve heard of it. Anyway, we don’t need to point out the obvious about on-base percentage and what it means for run production. Players don’t just reach first base on a walk and disappear into oblivion. If Phillips drives in 100 runs this season, Votto will be a big reason for it. It’s easy to gang up on what Phillips is saying here, as we have seen on Twitter throughout the evening. However, as our own Craig Calcaterra wrote about Jeff Samardzija exactly one month ago, does it really matter if a player understands or values sabermetrics?

Votto has embraced sabermetrics and that can have its advantages, but it’s not essential for a player to do so. There are analytics departments for that and coaching staffs to communicate information to players in an accessible way. We would have a problem here if Phillips said he purposely makes outs rather than draw a walk. He’s not saying that. However, he feels that he gets paid to swing the bat and drive in runs. That’s his approach and how he justifies his place in the lineup. It’s worked for him in the past, but his deficiencies are standing out a bit more now that he’s seemingly past his peak and moving into his mid-30s. And now he looks stubborn as he tries to defend something that has worked for him in the past. It’s probably frustrating. And from that prism, you can understand him getting extra defensive when he gets asked about on-base percentage, even if he’s wrong. It would be more alarming to hear this kind of talk from a general manager or front office executive as opposed to a player. Fortunately, Phillips is not in that position. He’s just a player with an opinion.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 5, Pirates 0: Zack Greinke tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits, and hit a triple and scored. Greinke has won four straight decisions and has a 15-inning scoreless streak. The Snakes sweep the four-game set in Pittsburgh.

Indians 2, Astros 1: Trevor Bauer matched up with his old college teammate and longtime personal nemesis Gerrit Cole. Like, real nemesis, not just baseball nemesis. They don’t like each other. It’s so weird to have that happen in baseball where everyone at least acts like they like one another but, nah, the two of ’em don’t get along and haven’t since they were back at UCLA. Kinda fun in an “I enjoy chaos” kind of way. Anyway, Bauer got the best of it here, allowing only one run in eight innings while Cole gave up two and struck out ten. Homers accounted for all of the scoring: Leonys Martin and Jake Bauers for Cleveland, George Springer for the Astros.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1: All the Dodgers did was score on a sac fly and an error, but ’twas enough. ‘Twil serve. Jon Lester came back off the injured list for the Cubs and looked good but Ross Stripling and a bunch of relievers held the Chicago offense in check.

Reds 4, Braves 2: Luis Castillo continues to be outstanding for Cincinnati, scattering eight hits over six shutout innings and lowering his ERA to 1.23 over six starts on the year. He got into trouble in the seventh, however, loading the bases without retiring a batter. Reliever David Hernandez came in, though, and struck out Dansby SwansonEnder Inciarte and Ozzie Albies to end the threat. Per my mailbag question on that the other day: THAT is definitely striking out the side. Eugenio Suárez drove in three of the Reds’ four runs.

Marlins 3, Phillies 1: A pitchers duel that was 1-1 at the end of regulation, but Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning to hand the Phillies their sixth loss in their last eight.

Red Sox 7, Tigers 3: I’ve been asked a few times lately if I think the Sox will turn it around. Yeah, I think the Sox will turn it around. There’s just too much offense on this team and they’ll put together a lot of days like this one. Michael Chavis hit a two-run homer and Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts each hit two doubles apiece. Suddenly Boston has won five of seven. They’re like last year’s Dodgers. We’ll all wonder what’s wrong with them until there’s, suddenly, nothing wrong with them.

Angels 11, Yankees 5: The Yankees had a 4-0 lead by the fifth inning and it looked like a four-game sweep was in the offing, but then Tommy La Stella and Kole Calhoun hit two-run home runs and David Fletcher drove in five runs the rest of the way and the Angels won in a laugher.

Mariners 14, Rangers 2: Marco Gonzales struck out nine, scattered six hits and didn’t walk a batter in seven scoreless innings while picking up his big league leading fifth win of the year. And, uh, he had a good deal of run support while doing it. Ryon Healy was 3-for-5 with three RBI. Tim Beckham hit his sixth homer and drove in three himself as the M’s scored 14 runs on 14 hits.

I’m out the rest of the day as I’m off to Kentucky to watch horses jump over things. Well, actually, I’ll be manning the grill at the tailgate while everyone else watches horses jump over things. When you marry a horse person (i.e. a person who is into horse stuff, not a half-person, half-horse) this is the kind of stuff you do.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.